June. Stolarow. Brownes at Assenden. A foetus. School concert. Stanley Spencer. War in Korea.
Thursday, June 1st
Two girls to Oxford. Shelley Memorial, Bodleian, Christ Church meadows, Cathedral Church, lunch in St John’s College Gardens, Ashmolean, New College, Keble, LMH Chapel, Rhodes House, Magdalen, very exhausted tea at Dorchester, abbey, and home 9.30 – 6.30. One doing history, the other art in Higher Certificate. They chatted pleasantly and had plenty to say, so that part was easy. Girls always more socially mature than boys.
Sunday, June 4th
A very hot day, temperature in 80’s. Cut bean stalks in morning but sweat ran in my eyes and blinded me. Wilk to lunch, tea on lawn, where made a fire.
Dunkirk being celebrated by visits of battleships and suitable wireless programmes.
Had a letter from Heath who wants to give 8-week foetus to school biology lab. Think this going a bit far, but full of professional zeal from medical point of view.
Monday, June 8th
Proposed to Mary we should camp trés simplement on Wednesday in bivouac tent on the ground; the problem is to be comfortable without carting a lot of gear round with you. This not easy as car is not big and one has to take water. Got Tom to clean out two ink jars to-day but wonder if they will do for drinking water.
Wednesday, June 7th
Had put all my gear ready, but did not want to tell Nora was camping, as thought she would much disapprove of my sleeping on the ground. When she had gone off to the clinic about 1.30, I loaded the car in a quarter of an hour. Had an interview for P.T. and D.S. jobs till 3.30, then beat it to Mary’s for tea. Found she had been sick that morning, but was all ready to go. Stopped at Pangbourne and bought torch, oranges and dates. Went up the track and found a good level spot. By then the wind had got up and it seemed likely to get cooler at night. Mary had only brought a cotton frock and jacket. As it turned out, I had gone to the other extreme and brought too many bedclothes. We had our supper in the car and then pitched the tent and we got our beds made. One great joy of camping is to see the light fail and know that all is snug for the night; the sunset, twilight, stars and the midsummer glow in the northern sky, the night noises, and the wind rustling the grasses – all these belong to an ancient and deep-rooted experience of the primitive hunters and farmers of the downland and stir in us long forgotten ancestral memories. Another joy is to wake and see the light coming in through the tent flap and hear the larks singing in the early dawn, crawl out and find the day beginning and to recall the line of Milton “filled the new made world with light.” We experienced all these, and in the dimness of the tent we slept together and performed Venus’ rights, quiet, alone, and far away from other people.
We cooked breakfast and had it sitting outside the tent in the sunshine; by 8.30 I had brought Mary back to the flat and at 9.30 I was back at school. Once we have the gear collected and ready we can go again. It is the organization that takes the time.
Friday, June 9th
Mary and I went to see The Bicycle Thieves, an Italian film about the theft of a bicycle in Rome belonging to a bill poster and essential to his work and the futile efforts of himself and his small boy to trace it. A film of frustration which went on and on like a bad dream from which one could not wake.
Monday, June 12th
Rehearsal for school concert. Nora came back with strawberries, so we had in Brind, Margaret Gaunt and Norman Attrill.
Wednesday, June 14th
Went on a church explore this afternoon. First to Theale, Gothic revival 1822, a fine exterior in a rather coarse way, then to Padworth lying beyond and above the Kennet. A lovely Norman chancel arch about 1130 with semicircular chancel and a good 18th century monument. The interior grander than Avington and the arch not collapsed or buckled. A gem. Came back to Reading via Burghfield, a most peculiar church like a great parish hall with a wooden roof, a Romanesque revival building of about 1843. It contained however a lovely wooden figure of a knight, about 1330, and two good modern windows, one in memory of an RAF pilot killed in 1945, done by the Whitefriars Glass Co.
Thursday, June 15th
A poor day, fell into an uncontrollable rage with a troublesome boy from 2b, Stolarow, and shook him, whereupon he paid me out by wetting his pants and leaking all over the floor!
Hilary arrived home for half term, tall, brown and gruff. He had been on a school outing to Betteshanger Colliery and Canterbury Cathedral.
Friday, June 16th
Went to the theatre with Hilary – Little Lambs Eat Ivy – not particularly suitable but two good drunks in it. Went to school concert in Town Hall in evening and came home with a beastly headache.
Saturday, June 17th
To Long Grasses with Hilary, climbed from Warren Farm to house on spur of Chilterns where we believed a church fête, but found it deserted. A marvellous site overlooking the upper Thames valley like the bridge of a ship. Went back to Warren Farm, then went back by road to find church fête. It proved to be in another big house set a mile or two from the other in a hollow in the hills and quite cut off by beech trees and down a long rhododendron avenue. Went into Swyncombe church through the gardens. An interesting 18th church with good modern oak screen.
Sunday, June 18th
Went to see Miss Hunter at the Brownes at Assenden. She can hobble without sticks and is much better in general health and spirits. Told her all the latest scandal at the school.
Monday, June 19th
Had pant snatcher’s parents up. They were most wishful to tell me the snatchee’s mother was an immoral woman who had Poles! And the girl no better than she ought to be. Well, well. Truth hard to find indeed in Nettlebed (well named).
Tuesday, June 20th
Went over to Mary’s. She was heating up for one of her recurrent fits and spent a miserable evening. Nothing I could do was right. It seemed a waste of time to sweat over to Reading at all.
Friday, June 23rd
Third performance of school concert, all indoors because of weather, either raining or too cold and windy. The programme – spoken verse from The Land, choir, some dubious pieces on the piano, an appaling song, but general effect good and pleased the parents! Miss Hunter came up and tottered around.
Sunday, June 25th
To lunch with Mary, who had recovered from Tuesday; took our lunch on the Downs above Kingsclere. We found with some difficulty the chapel at Burclere. It was a good long time since I had been there, perhaps before the war. We had to wait some time to go in as there was a crowd of small boys and a schoolmaster, then some vulgar rich in large cars, but eventually we had it to ourselves. I did not want to spoil the memories I had of visits there with Molly or Phyllis or Nora when we were quite alone and in the peace and strange remoteness of the building. The soldiers' heads behind the altar seem to speak of an ancient yet continuing England, of Langland, Henry V, Fielding and Dickens. I remarked to Mary that the paintings would look less fresh in 200 years time.
[The paintings are by Stanley Spencer, who lived nearby at Cookham]
The place where we had tea was a lane in a coomb in the hills (Sydmonton), the road overshadowed with magnificent beeches of immense size and age.
Monday, June 26th
Early yesterday morning the communists began a full-scale invasion of Korea. This may mean the beginning of a war in the Far East, and if the Far East perhaps Europe. First heard of it from the masseur I have been seeing and, as I had not read the paper, I thought he enquired about what I thought about “career” and I was very puzzled!
Tuesday, June 27th
The U.S. government has reacted vigorously, sent help to the South Koreans and shot down some communist aircraft. They are to bring a resolution before the Security Council to-night and if, as I should think, this gives them a free hand, they will be tough. As a gesture President Truman has announced that orders have been given to speed up supplies to France and Indo China and the fleet has been ordered to prevent any attacks on Formosa from the mainland. The Australians are sending heavy bombers to Malaya.
Korea was divided in two zones when the Japanese surrendered in 1945, but no more than in Germany was it intended that two separate governments should be set up there.
Wednesday, June 28th
The resolution passed the Security Council by 7 votes to 1, the one being Jugolsavia. Tito does not want to risk an invasion! The Americans have started to bomb the communist supply lines, but they have entered the capital, Seoul, and don’t so far seem to be meeting much resistance. I wonder if the South Koreans have much fight in them. The process of being “liberated” may not appeal to them.
Thursday, June 29th
American papers compare Korea to the Rhineland in 1936, the test case when the aggression can be stopped if the democracies face the possibility of war. Hope this a valid analogy. A defensive line supposed to be in place along a river with the capital lost on the north bank. It won’t do the U.N.O. much good if they have to choose between loss of face and an amphibious operation to rescue Korea.
A lack of real news and no information about the Russian attitude. Do they want a “Spanish civil war” to keep the U.S.A. occupied while they “non-intervene” and step up the war in Indo China and Malaya or are they prepared to fight?
Donald Heath came in to borrow a rucksack for a walk round Land’s End. He is thinking of specializing in medical side of neurology